southafricalogoReuters reports that public sector trade unions said on Tuesday that they would lodge a formal dispute if the government did not honour a three-year public sector wage deal.  That could lead to months of arbitration and culminate in a strike.  

Government officials advised last week that they couldn't afford to pay public servants wage increases due in April and asked to renegotiate the applicable deal struck in 2018.  Also, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said in his annual budget speech that he wanted to make R160-billion of cuts to the public-sector wage bill over the next three years.  Nehawu, one of the largest public sector unions, said it had rejected government's request to review the wage deal and that it did not intend to discuss it further.  "On April 1, if there is no implementation we will file a dispute and enforce the agreement," Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba stated.  Trade union federation Fedusa echoed that view.  Vukani Mbhele, a spokesperson for the Department of Public Service and Administration, advised that the ministry was talking to unions informally.  He indicated that unions had not told the ministry about their plans to lodge a dispute and said that officials would deal with the matter when it arose at the bargaining council.

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